How To Guarantee Your Success On The Guitar
By Eric Bourassa
Congratulations! You’ve decided to play the guitar and you're excited about it, but if you're like many who embark on this quest of musical domination, you might be unsure about your future success, questioning whether this is really for you, or if you have “what it takes.” I can tell you that after 10 years of teaching guitar in Fort Worth and working with over 1,000 guitar and piano students that success is not determined by one's initial aptitude or talent but rather by these five key factors:
5. Stay Away From The Internet!
1. Make the Decision. To become successful with anything, you must make the decision to become successful. If you hesitantly sign up for guitar lessons or begin learning a new skill without firmly deciding that you will be successful no matter what it takes, you will more than likely fail.
Every person I have ever met that has been successful at anything in life has begun their new venture or hobby with a determined state of mind. So, do you believe that you can be successful on the guitar? Do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will be successful? You must commit mentally to seeing this through to completion.
If you are totally sure that you're going to become great and you believe in yourself and you trust your guitar instructor, then you will definitely become great. Every successful student we have that started from nothing and is now a great guitar player made the decision to be successful early on.
Your success may take you a few years or a lifetime to achieve. For some it's between 2 to 3 years; for others, it's a lifelong endeavor. We have a few students who have been with us for nearly a decade. You must decide how great you want to become and how fast you want to become great. Avoid saying things like, “Let’s just see how it goes,” or “Let's try it out.” These will guarantee your failure.
Instead, say things like, "I've made the decision to become great. I know I will become great with my instructor’s help, even if I feel like I'm not progressing today."
2. Set Clear Goals. There is significant research that has been done on the value of goal-setting. Students that set clear goals are much more likely to be successful than those who don't. You must know what it is you want to achieve. If you don't yet know what it is you want to achieve but only that you simply want to play guitar, just stay on the path your guitar teacher lays out for you. As you gain knowledge and expertise on the guitar, you will begin to set clearer goals. The more specific your goals, the better.
3. Practice Correctly, Repeatedly, and Consistently. When you practice, it is imperative that you practice correctly. If you practice consistently, but you do not practice correctly, you have not only wasted your time but you have wasted future practice time by having to undo bad habits. To make sure you're practicing correctly, make sure you are working with a great guitar teacher in the Fort Worth area.
Next, when you are practicing, make sure that once you are playing something correctly, play it repeatedly. The mistake most guitar students make when practicing is that they play something once correctly, and they think they've mastered it. Then they go to their lesson or play for friends and family, make mistakes, and get frustrated, thinking, “I played it perfectly at home!” The problem is that the song or exercise was not played enough times correctly.
Finally, you must be consistent in your practicing, which means practicing whether you feel like it or not. Carve out 20 minutes a day for yourself to practice and stick to it. It might be the beginning of the day before the rest of your household wakes up, during your lunch break, or at night after everyone has gone to bed. This is different for everyone. Find what works for you.
Just like getting fit requires you to work out and go to the gym consistently, the same is true of guitar. Your success will not be determined by your natural talent but rather by your ability to remain consistent in daily practice. (Side note—no one is perfect, and we all have days that are crazy busy and we forget to practice. This is OKAY— if you have a bad week, do not give up. Consistency over the long-term is key).
4. Overcommit. The best musicians are the ones who are truly obsessive. You do not necessarily need to take this approach, unless your goal is to become one of the greatest guitarists on the planet or even one of the greatest guitar players in Fort Worth. However, the more you commit to your success, the better. What does this look like? It might look like taking lessons more frequently, such as 2, 3, or 4 times per week. It might mean practicing 30 minutes instead of the minimal 20 minutes a day. It might mean investing in new gear: strings, a new guitar, a new amp, new albums and concert films (things that inspire you and remind you that you are serious about becoming a great guitarist).
5. Stay Away From The Internet.
“We are drowning in information, but starving for knowledge.” -Rutherford D Rogers
The Internet is full of information. In fact, it’s full of FREE information! However, most self-taught guitarists I meet that began learning from YouTube or some other online source typically come to me frustrated with their lack of progress, lack of direction, and bad habits that we have to go back and spend extra time fixing. This means most of the time, when a self-taught guitar player signs up for lessons with us at our Fort Worth teaching studio, we start all the way from the beginning. This means all of their time trying to teach themselves was wasted PLUS the additional time that will be required to go back and fix the bad habits.
For you, if you are a student with us, my recommendation is to first practice the material your guitar instructor has assigned you for a minimum of 20 minutes/day and then, if you want to learn anything else, like one of your favorite songs on your own, spend time on it after your lesson material. As a warning, beware of instructional videos and online TAB. They won't necessarily be wrong, and in fact may have great ideas, but remember that there are multiple right ways to learn something on guitar, but you should not learn all the right ways to play— you only need to learn one of the right ways. Learning multiple right ways can lead to you developing bad habits by combining two different approaches that are correct on their own but do not work together. When in doubt, rely on what your guitar teacher tells you.
So there you have it! Follow those 5 simple steps, and you will master the guitar. It will take time and it will be challenging, but stick with it and I think you’ll find it to be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of your life!
See you at the studio!